The other day I wrote to congratulate Beren Academy, an Orthodox Jewish school in Houston, for choosing not to continue in the state basketball tournament rather than play on the Jewish sabbath. The school’s headmaster, a rabbi, said the things of God come before the things of this world. It was a beautiful testimony of faith and an institution that had both its head and its heart in the right place.

Then it emerged that several parents whose kids play for that team sued Tapps, the private Texas entity that oversees the league cobbled together from private and parochial schools, and which had denied Beren the right to have its tournament game changed so as not to conflict with the Jewish sabbath. (Note well: the school itself had nothing to do with the lawsuit). Tapps backed down, and Beren got to play. Here is the complaint the parents filed in court.

If the complaint is accurate, there are two facts here that are especially pertinent: 1) Tapps’ rules allow for rescheduling if both teams agree; 2) Beren’s opponent, the Covenant school of Dallas, had agreed to rescheduling to accomodate Beren.

It appears that Tapps broke its own rules in deciding that Beren couldn’t reschedule, given that Covenant was willing.

Though Tapps does not, according to its constitution, define itself as an exclusively Christian athletic association, it seems pretty clear that that’s what they want to be. A Muslim school that tried to get in was voted down after being sent a very strange set of questions from Tapps (e.g., “Historically, there is nothing in the Koran that fully embraces Christianity or Judaism in the way a Christian and/or a Jew understands his religion. Why, then, are you interested in joining an association whose basic beliefs your religion condemns?”)

Weird, given the fact that Tapps doesn’t call itself a Christian, or a Jewish, organization. If it’s true that Tapps’ rules would have allowed the Beren kids to reschedule the game, as long as Covenant agreed (which it did), and Tapps still wouldn’t allow it, it’s harder to blame the Beren parents for wanting to go to court. Sounds like Tapps better make up its mind about what it wants to be. There was no reason for this problem to get this far.

Texans, am I missing something here? I thought the parents’ lawsuit was out of line because Beren joined knowing these were the rules, and now wanted to get them changed. But it looks like there was both a possibility for exception within the rules, and the precedent of same.